Debate Protesters Forced To Walk Miles To ‘Free Speech Zone’ Across A Highway From Clinton & Trump

Journalist Abby Martin told MintPress News that many activists were forced to walk miles to reach the free speech zone. “It seems like there was a purposeful tactic to deter people from finding the protest site.”
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    Jill speaks to MSNBC before being escorted off Hofstra’s campus. (Twitter/Jill Stein)

    Jill speaks to MSNBC before being escorted off Hofstra’s campus. (Twitter/Jill Stein)

    AUSTIN, Texas — Protesters at the first presidential debate last night found themselves forced into a “free speech zone” about a quarter mile away and separated from the actual event site by a 6-lane highway.

    Many others had difficulty even making it that far, thanks to extensive police roadblocks and “an absurd level of security,” according to journalist Abby Martin, the host of “The Empire Files” on teleSUR English, who spoke with MintPress News on Tuesday after covering Monday’s protests.

    Martin continued:

    “Thousands of police set up roadblocks and cutaways through neighborhoods, forcing people to walk up to three miles simply to reach the ‘free speech zone.’ It took us over an hour to get there on foot.”

    “Part of the idea of free speech and redress of grievances is being able to speak to and at the people that you are trying to get a message across too,” said Susan Gottehrer, chapter director of the Nassau County New York Civil Liberties Union, and one of several observers from her organization at the protests, in an interview with MintPress.

    A map showing the distance between the debate site and the free speech zone. (Screenshot: Google Maps)

    A map showing the distance between the debate site and the free speech zone. (Screenshot: Google Maps)

    Gottehrer told us that she has serious concerns about the degree to which the intense security precautions impeded protesters’ constitutional right to freely assemble. “The debate itself was being held on private property, so that, in and of itself, provides limitations on the protection of First Amendment rights,” she noted.

    While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debated inside the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on the Hofstra University Campus, the free speech zone, officially termed the debate’s “Public Area,” was located outside Hagedorn Hall, located over 1,000 feet away across the busy NY-24 state highway. Protests were banned on the entire north side of campus, across the highway and some Green Party supporters were arrested for protesting outside the actual debate site, after debate officials turned away Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.

     

    Speakers had to sign up in advance to use the provided stage in the free speech zone, and most protesters instead gathered outside on a nearby public sidewalk.

    Some didn’t even make it that far, thanks to the difficulty of reaching the designated protest area in the first place. Martin said:

    “We spoke to several people who were steered away by police telling them wrong directions. It seems like there was a purposeful tactic to deter people from finding the protest site. One Jill stein supporter told us three whole buses of stein supporters never even made it to the event because of all the confusion.”

    Gottehrer suggested the long distance between security checkpoints and the free speech zone could have prevented many people with disabilities or other physical limitations from protesting. “That also creates a physical limitation to people being able to express their First Amendment rights.

    According to the Hofstra University website, security precautions set up by the Secret Service, but multiple law enforcement agencies took part. Gottehrer reported that security checkpoints, operated by Nassau County Police, sometimes became overloaded and required another time-consuming wait before protesters could begin reach the protest site.

    Gottehrer told us that her organization had negotiated extensively with the county police, who she said overall did a good job. “The Nassau County Police understood that they were not to be confiscating signs or things like that.”

    However, Martin told us some protesters “weren’t let in with guitars, hairpins, signs and bullhorns.”

    “One can only imagine how many more people would’ve been protesting if we didn’t live in an Orwellian police state,” Martin concluded.

    Watch “Outside First Presidential Debate, 24 Arrested at Protests & Jill Stein Escorted Away by Police” from Democracy Now!

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      • GALT

        How can you believe that you have a “right to redress grievances”
        when those you are appealing to are the CAUSE of that grievance?

        “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the
        past controls the future.”

        You may believe that the “founders” ( the rich white property owners
        involved in slavery, land speculation, smuggling….) were in favor of free
        speech, but this is not true……the term “regulator” appears in this era,
        and if you happened to be on the “wrong” side…..good luck.

        “The lesson of history is: we have learned NOTHING from history.”

        IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

      • s k

        Hillary Clinton is making a case for American exceptionalism. “The United States is an exceptional nation,” she said on Wednesday at the American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati. “It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger than any on Earth, it’s also the strength of our values.” Clinton added: “Our power comes with a responsibility to lead.”

        There is no difference between these two corrupt parties, “Free speech zones” makes the US Exceptional.

      • dale ruff

        A free speech zone is a kind of memory hole where protest and outrage are buried.

        • GALT

          But you will be SAFE…..and there is no “freedom to hear”.

          • dale ruff

            non sequitur…..

            • GALT

              No, it’s apropos…..lighten up, it’s called sarcasm.

              • dale ruff

                Lighten up, it’s only free speech that is being destroyed….who cares?

                • GALT

                  Oh, okay then….I’m sure your repetitive paraphrase of Tapitio’s
                  earlier comment will make all the difference. Of course, you
                  might be better served by the “understanding” that any “rights”
                  you thought you had, were removed in 1939 federally, and by
                  the several states, by 1960 and that you have voluntarily accepted
                  this simply by being ignorant of it happening.

                  I would suggest that you channel your anger and misplaced outrage
                  at the source of the problem, rather than reacting to the symptoms
                  of the disease, as they continue to manifest themselves as the
                  patient in this instance is terminal.

                  http://www.copblock.org/5257/all-rights-reserved-ucc1-308-or-its-just-business/

                  http://www.energeticforum.com/general-discussion/2504-common-law-ucc-1-308-a.html

                  This will require a bit of effort to understand and a bit more to actually
                  do something about but at the very least, you may be able to grasp
                  that neither I nor my sarcasm are the source of your “problem”…..
                  and that your words here, no matter how “profound” you imagine
                  them to be, are not the solution to it.

                  Assuming that you are seeking a solution?

                  • dale ruff

                    You are a big bore. Go away.

                    • GALT

                      I guess free speech being “destroyed” is no longer a
                      serious threat, since you have no interest in how it happened
                      or the knowledge of what would be required to actually
                      DO SOMETHING about it?

                      Sorry the history and facts bore you, a self claimed “radical”
                      who lived through it all and “failed” to notice.

                      Interestingly, your ignorance is not blissful yet you willingly
                      choose to remain impotent…..in defense of your paraphrased
                      sound bite wisdom.

                      “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls…….”

      • tapatio

        “Free speech” zone definition: A location where nobody, especially those being protested against, can see protestors and where their protest can have no effect whatever.